A late work by Yorke, this image shows the 1887 American defender VOLUNTEER and the Scottish challenger THISTLE beating to weather on opposite tacks during one of the 1887 America’s Cup matches. An excursion steamer, her decks crowded with spectators, follows the racers, while an elegant and unusual rigged three masted sail-steam pleasure yacht lays off to windward.
THISTLE was designed by the legendary G.L. Watson in Scotland while VOLUNTEER came from American icon Edward Burgess. THISTLE’s design was initially considered a more scientific breakthrough, but VOLUNTEER’s unique design proved far superior, surprising everyone as the series developed. Seen in this image is the white hulled VOLUNTEER’s novel bowsprit, which could be retracted or extended for different wind conditions.
The 1887 series was a best of three match with Volunteer winning two straight under squally conditions on a rough and tumble sea. Yorke has captured the atmospheric elements in his darkening sky and the steep green seas accented with white wave tops. Sails are taught on both yachts, their rigs loaded to the limit in the blustery wind. Yorke’s America’s Cup paintings are popular for their accurate first hand observations of these historic races.
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